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Impact of pay freeze on the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (England and Wales) calculations

​In 2021, the education unions alerted the Department for Education (DfE) to the potential impact the pay freeze could have on how some final salary pensions were calculated, due to a 'quirk' in the regulations.

This 'quirk' meant that certain calculations needed to be triggered by a change in the rate of pay, which wouldn't occur for some members affected by the pay freeze in 2021/22.

June 2023 update

Ongoing discussions have taken place over the last year with the DfE regarding the possible amendment to the ‘average salary’ calculation as set out in the 2010 regulations where indexation is applied only when there is a change to a member’s salary. 

The DfE has finalised a proposal that from a future date (following an amendment to regulations):

indexation would change from whenever there is a change in pay to one fixed point per year – either April or September, and an annual revaluation method is introduced from a transition date.  Where the 10-year period overlaps the transition date, revaluation ‘trigger’ points will be applied in accordance with the approach in force at that point in time. This will delay the eventual transition to a fully annualised approach to salary revaluation for 10 years (until the existing approach phases out).
​This proposal would be subject to public consultation and would require the approval of DfE ministers and HM Treasury if regulations are to be changed.  

At the Teachers’ Pension Scheme Advisory Board (SAB) meetings on 2 March and 29 June 2023, the DfE provided an update regarding its consideration of the average salary indexation issue that has been raised by the SAB.

The DfE set out that there are a number of considerations, including the relative value of the existing provisions, potential impact on the Transitional Protection remedy work, as well as creating a ‘cliff edge’ scenario for members retiring. 

For these reasons, the DfE has determined that it should consult on a proposed change to the average salary rules involving an annual indexation event that applies equally to all members, with the change that could be made applying prospectively from whenever new regulations may be in force, not retrospectively.

From a practical perspective, members do not need to be concerned about this in relation to the current year of pension accrual as salary increases have been applied at a national level (albeit that these still remain in dispute as to quantum).

July 2022 update

Through our work on the teachers’ pension scheme advisory board, NAHT, alongside the other represented unions, wrote to the DfE requesting an urgent update on its work to resolve the issues arising from flat indexation for the ‘best three in 10’ average salary method during pay freezes. 

The DfE has confirmed that it is currently exploring policy options that could mitigate this impact in future years, and is currently working with the Government Actuaries Department (GAD) on modelling different scenarios. The proposal that the DfE is considering is to allow for the increase of the annual average rate of relevant salary each April in line with the rate of the Treasury order (used as part of the career average scheme indexation) in the previous financial year. 

If taken forward, the proposal would be subject to public consultation and HM Treasury approval, if regulations were to be changed. 

The DfE has confirmed that it does not intend to pursue any retrospective changes if an amendment is made. This means that if any change is implemented it will not have effect for those who retire from the final salary section of the TPS before the regulations come into force.

NAHT continues to engage in conversations with the DfE, and will review any proposals through our representation on the Scheme Advisory Board. 




The final salary scheme uses two methods to work out average salary and the pension calculation, then uses the best of those two.

  • Method A: The last 365 days of salary.
  • Method B: The average of the best three consecutive years from the last 10 years, where the salaries are revalued to account for inflation.

The calculation for a member's pension in the final salary section of the Teachers' Pension Scheme England and Wales uses the best of these two methods.

TPS scheme regulations mean for revaluation to be credited in method B, the salary rate has to change. The only circumstance which does not trigger revaluation is a salary freeze. The Department for Education accepts that this is the position.

Non-revaluation therefore cuts the pensions members get in retirement if a period of pay freeze is part of the 'best consecutive three in ten'. Therefore 2021/22 may lead to losses for members at the top of their pay range/those who do not achieve progression but who retire or leave teaching in the next 10 years with their pension being calculated using Method B (‘best consecutive three in 10’).

This issue does not apply in the career average scheme, nor to colleagues in Wales who were not subject to the pay freeze in 2021/22.

In November 2021 NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, ASCL and Voice wrote to all employers in England to highlight the problem and the action needed. The joint correspondence sets out a practical way of ensuring the regulations work as intended by asking employers to create a change in the pay rate (suggested as small a change as £1 increase per annum) to engage regulation 37 (9) and (10), which will in turn trigger the revaluation of method B.   

We encouraged members to discuss this with their governing bodies, to consider the implications for their schools. NAHT was also in touch with the National Governance Association (NGA) to raise this issue through its channels.

First published 30 June 2023

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The Life Members' Sector Council (LMSC)

Whether leaving a labour of love or embracing a life of leisure, there can be no doubt that retirement from school leadership marks a huge change in lifestyle. There will be adjustments to make, new challenges to take and a range of new opportunities. At a time like this, it is important that our experienced members do not lose all the support they received in their working life. Our life members’ committee is here to ensure members are supported in retirement.

This committee feeds its extensive wealth of experience and know-how to support the work of NAHT. It also gives our life members the chance to make important contributions to our campaigns for working members.  

The committee, which meets four times a year, is made up of one elected representative from each of our regions, with the addition of one place each for Northern Ireland and Wales. And these elected committee members, normally, serve a three-year term.

Areas of focus for the committee include the following: 

  • Current legislation issues eg pension provision
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LMSC chair

John Killeen (National Executive member): john.killeen@nahtofficials.org.uk

LMSC vice-chair

Nigel Patton: nigel.patton@nahtofficials.org.uk

LMSC communications officer

Michael Wilson: Michael.wilson@nahtofficials.org.uk

LMSC deputy communications officer

Eugene Symonds: eugene.symonds@nahtofficials.org.uk

Committee servicing officer

Frances Geddes has the responsibility for working closely with the LMSC as servicing officer. She can be contacted via email frances.geddes@naht.org.uk.

For further details and contact information about all current LMSC members please check out ‘Who’s who’ and the ‘List of LMSC members'.

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